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against that marvelous sky, before which dance back and forth the multitude of picturesque spinners at their toil. This at least seems like what we have imagined the Orient to be, in coloring, in shape, in attribute. Maxfield Parrish would delight in it.
The bit of desert in which these tombs lie runs along the whole eastern edge of the city, narrowing as it nears the projecting foothill on which the Citadel is set, until it becomes a mere ribbon, and is finally lost in the sharp uprising of the Citadel road. Just to the east and along the whole distance tower the cliffs of the Mokhattam, marking the verge of the Arabian Desert proper. Their height and their proximity to the town long ago rendered the Citadel quite worthless as a fort; for any artillery, however primitive, must from the superior cliffs make but short work of the ancient keep below, and would speedily lay in ruin the magnificent mosque of Mohammed Ali, depriving Cairo of its most picturesque and conspicuous adornment. Naturally it is from the top of the Mokhattam that one obtains the very best view of Cairo -- and common consent decrees it the finest view in all Egypt.
By all means combine the visit to the Mokhattam with your second inspection of the Citadel, rather than with the jaunt to the outlying tombs of the Caliphs. It is far less fatiguing. A donkey for the entire journey can be had for a shilling in the little square where the tram line ends; and it is well to have a donkey, as the way is not only steep, but in places intolerably dusty. Suffer yourself to be shown once more, in passing, the tomb of Mohammed Ali, the scene of the Mameluke massacre, the view from the parapet, and even “ Joseph's Well” – which had, of course, nothing to do with the Biblical Joseph. And when you have passed the latter, surrender yourself to the tender mercies of your guide and the donkey to be carried out of the Citadel by a postern gate, down an appallingly steep and stony path to a ravine, the bottom of which is a soft and dusty crease in the face of the desert. In due time - it is not far — you will come to a sharp ascent along a causeway which leads directly to the top of the cliffs. Parts of it have fallen away, so that it is no longer possible to ride all the distance; but the walk is brief, and when you attain finally the top, the prospect on every hand is so magnificent that you will thank me for urging you to come. If possible, remain until sunset, which is generally dependable to be a gorgeous exhibition.
Cairo lies at your feet, and for the first time you appreciate its vast extent. The Citadel just beneath looks rather like a toy. Beyond it spreads the huddled mass of the city buildings, an inundation of humanity and all its works overflowing the broad plain. The minarets rise here and there like needles. The air is full of a faint hum and distant cries. Far away to the north the river emerges from its hampering contact with the city and loses itself in the spreading Delta. Westward you may descry the trees of the Ghezireh through the haze and smoke. Northward in the first reaches of the meadows stands the vast bulk of the hotel at Heliopolis — the ancient city of On. Southward stretches the great Nile, flanked on one hand by the desert and on the other by the alluvial plain. Beyond it — wonder of all wonders — the long line of pyramids, tombs of a mighty past, striding along the horizon as far as the eye can see, from the distant bulk of the false pyramid of Medun to the gigantic mass of Cheops across the way in Ghizeh. There is no panorama like unto it elsewhere in the world. The line of pyramids is like a ladder down the ages. And far beyond, the inexorable desert billows in heaps of glistening sand. Many have praised the view from the Mokhattam, yet no one has praised it enough. The most that can be said is less than half the reality. To realize it in its full grandeur one must simply go to it and see with one's own eyes.
A part of the difficulty in seeking to describe such a view as that from the summit of the Mokhattam arises from the subtle quality of the coloring of the desert. To those who know the desolate wastes of it,
the assumption that it must be monotonous is impossible to understand. The sea itself is not more susceptible to mood and change. Nothing is more unstable than the shifting sands blown hither and yon with every wind of heaven. Nothing is more variable than the aspect of the undulating surface of the sand, running as it does the gamut of colors from morn to noon, from noon to dewy eve, and under the silent stars of night. One grows to love it, to desire it, to be unhappy away from it. And yet it is a terrible sort of beauty. There is an element of depression to be felt throughout Egypt at the constant presence of those inexorable sands, hungry and insatiable, held at bay only by the merciful rise and recession of a mud-laden stream. Nowhere in Egypt have I been able to forget those monstrous deserts, held at arm's length by a precarious tenure, capable of burying beyond recall, in a destruction that knows no human remedy; treasure-houses of torture, awful to contemplate- yet above all supremely beautiful as they are supremely terrible. Surely God created the desert for his peculiar glory! It is unearthly to look upon shimmering in the heat. Its cliffs, down whose tawny faces the old river has eaten its way in ages gone, forbid as they allure. Change as they may in the waning light, from the pale yellow of high noon to the rich tints of the rainbow in the afterglow of sunset, they are pallid still. Pallor is the prevailing characteristic of the shifting hues, always delicate, always fascinating, never the same.
Of all this there is but a foretaste on the Mokhattam. Civilization lies at one's feet, secure in the protecting arm of the Nile. The majesty of a great city lures the eye away from the barren desolation behind. There is little hint at so great a distance of the deadness that surrounds the receding procession of the pyramids. But as one looks away up the valley to the southward there tower the pale cliffs of Helouan, and already these grow roseate, violet, amethystine in the departing light. The pyramids grow ghostly against the flaming glory of the west. And with the dusk as surely comes the cold. Later we shall have occasion to come to closer grips with the desert and to invade the sacred precints of the pyramid tombs. For the present it is high time to seek the donkeys at the foot of the shelving path, regain the dust and tumult of the town, and seek the shelter that awaits us there.
There remains one other quarter of Cairo to be dealt with, reserved for the last because it is at once the most remote and the oldest. It is the outlying southern hamlet of Old Cairo, once the ancient Egyptian Babylon, and now a squalid village boasting little to attract save its forsaken mosque and its venerable